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Physical Protection For the Internet

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Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) researchers say that physical attacks on critical Internet infrastructures, such as servers and data hubs, could be just as important a problem to maintaining network functions as cyberattacks. The ETH team found that physical damage to important communication networks can result in massive failures of different critical infrastructures, largely due to the interdependency of these systems.

"Effective functioning of today's societies is based on critical infrastructures, i.e., large-scale infrastructures whose degradation, disruption, or destruction would have a serious impact on the health, safety, security, or well-being of citizens or the effective functioning of governments and/or economy," says ETH researcher Ling Zhou.

The researchers used the Swiss national network for research and education to study how physical damage to network components could affect the Internet as a whole and developed three strategies for protecting network infrastructure. First, common connection points should be viewed and protected as important Internet infrastructure. Second, Internet service providers should be supported in protecting themselves and should be encouraged to diversify the physical routing of fiber-optic cables. Finally, national governments must cooperate with service providers to develop safety standards for the currently unregulated sector of information and communication technologies.

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